The Ultimate Guide To Situational Judgement Tests
April 27, 2021
Did you know that situational judgement tests are used to eliminate up to 80% of applicants before the interview stage?
Considering that situational judgement tests (SJTs) are now a common step in the graduate job recruitment process, it makes sense to get ahead of the competition just by doing some simple preparation.
Whether you’ve never come across an SJT, or you’re wondering how to do better at them in your next application, we’ve got you covered. From how to prepare to some of the most common question types, here is everything you need to know about SJTs.
What is a situational judgement test?
A situational judgement test is a type of psychometric aptitude test commonly used by recruiters to help them choose which candidates to advance to the interview stage. The test contains questions and scenarios designed to examine how the candidates approach work-related situations.
Though some companies use generic tests, most use tailored SJTs containing various industry or even company-specific scenarios that the candidate would be likely to encounter if they were hired.
Each scenario is based on the specific competencies recruiters are looking for in potential employees. An SJT will assess a number of different competencies, including the knowledge, skills and behaviours necessary to succeed in the workplace.
How are they used?
When it comes to processing and interviewing a large number of candidates, recruiters have a lot of work to do. By asking applicants to complete an SJT, they can filter out any unsuitable candidates before the interview stage. These tests can be used to quickly and efficiently assess a large volume of applicants, meaning the hiring process is quicker for both recruiters and applicants.
The best thing about these tests is that they are a completely fair and unbiased way of evaluating each candidate’s relevant skills. An SJT doesn’t factor in your gender, socio-economic status or level of education. They judge based on your performance only, meaning only candidates that demonstrate the right core skills will reach the interview stage.
How to prepare for and succeed in a situational judgement test
Now you know what an SJT is and when you might have to complete one, the next step is knowing how to actually go about preparing for one. Here are some of our top tips to succeed:
1. Understand what competencies are being assessed
In order to succeed in any exam, you should have some idea of what might come up, and revise that content. It’s exactly the same when taking an SJT. Look at the job requirements and identify what competencies they are looking for. For example, if you are applying for customer service or sales role, you can expect scenarios testing your communication, teamwork and decision-making skills.
2. Research the role and company
As well as reading the job advertisement in detail, check the company’s website and social media profiles to get a feel for what they do and how you would fit in.
What are their values? Do they have a company mission statement or ethos? By understanding the company’s personality and priorities, you can identify what courses of action they may be looking for in your responses. Here's more on how to effectively research a company.
3. Always read the instructions properly
For each scenario, carefully read any instructions before you start. Then, read through the passage or scenario and try and identify which competency is being assessed. Look at all the statements before you start ordering or selecting them, to ensure you are happy with your answers.
4. Practice, practice, practice!
By completing practice tests you can familiarise yourself with the timings and structure of the test. It will also help you see which types of scenarios you tend to struggle with. The best way to do this is by taking notes during the practice tests and looking for patterns. Practising will help you get faster at spotting the right answers when it comes to the real test.
5. Reflect on the test
To get the most out of an SJT (and to improve your performance for next time) you should always reflect on how the test went. This both helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses, and also helps you decide if the company and the role are a good fit for you.
Common question types
The good news is that most SJTs follow a similar structure. They tend to present a short scenario followed by a multiple-choice or ordering task. You do not need any specialist knowledge to complete the tests, but rather a good level of common sense and logical thinking.
Most scenarios present the main challenge with some smaller factors to also consider. There are usually five statements, each presenting a different way of responding to the scenario. You will usually be asked to choose which of the statements is the best or worst option. Another common format is to ask candidates to order the statements from what they would be most likely to do to what they would never do.
Avoid choosing the answers you think the recruiters want to hear. They want to see how you would perform in the role, so you need to answer honestly. Also, the best answers are often not the most obvious ones, but rather the ones that provide a longer-term solution to the problem, instead of a temporary fix.
Whether you’re preparing for your first SJT or you just want to brush up on your skills to make sure you succeed at your next one, here are some useful resources to help you practice for free:
Written by Talya Honebeek